During the recent open house at Crane’s new Technical Materials headquarters, Vice President Dennis Lockyer noted that Crane began experimenting with what we know today as nonwoven materials in the 1950s. But paper was the first real technical material. And the go-to mill for 19th-century innovators was Crane’s.
As a matter of fact, Crane can mark Nov. 29, 1879, as the first successful use of Crane’s papers as non-writing technical materials.
It was that day when Charles Batchelor, chief researcher for Thomas Edison, used Crane’s Parchment to create a long-lasting incandescent light. Edison would demonstrate his success to the media the very next week.
Paper, especially those made by Crane, were used in a wide variety of innovations – from observatory domes to railroad car wheels to boats to printed circuit boards. With a material so pure and so consistent, Edison and others were able to deduce and take advantage of their physical, chemical and mechanical properties for use in explorations using the “Scientific Method,” that is to say – eliminating variables.
One of the most important properties paper brought to the world of innovation is the fact that it is resistant to the conduction of electricity. As such paper could be used for resistance and insulation. Edison took advantage of both those properties.
Resistance came into play in development of the incandescent light. Carbonized Crane Parchment resisted the passage of electricity, thus creating light. It was so pure that there were no defects that would weaken the filament.
Insulation was instrumental in Edison’s creation of the first municipal electric power plant – the Pearl Street Station in New York City, built in 1881. Crane’s Bond was used to separate and
insulate copper plates in Pearl Street’s “Jumbo” dynamo.
Soon after Edison made good use the properties of Crane Paper, another young innovator began ordering paper “to be made suitable for the purposes of the Electric Light.” William Stanley was about to move to Great Barrington to continue his experiments with alternating current. He would shortly demonstrate his success by illuminating downtown Great Barrington.